Green proposes new plan for reopening state as vaccine distribution ramps up

He has a plan to open up Hawaii's economy, but it all depends on the mass vaccination effort.
Updated: Jan. 29, 2021 at 10:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up statewide, Lt. Gov. Josh Green is proposing a new plan for reopening.

Green shared his proposal with Hawaii News Now Sunrise on Friday morning but said it would need to be vetted by the governor and county mayors.

Here’s what it would entail:

  • When the majority of vaccinations through Phase 1B are completed, the state can begin to reopen inter-island travel, schools and move to Tier 3.
  • When the majority of vaccinations through Phase 1C are completed, the state can reopen mainland travel.
  • When all vaccinations in Phase 1 are complete, the state can begin to reopen safely to large events.

“We’re waiting on the data from the federal government to make sure people can’t be carriers of the virus,” Green said, defining the term as “sterilization immunity.”

“It looks good. This is a way for us to be analytical and targeted in how we open up. And it would certainly be a game changer.”

As inoculations continue, Green said he believes that rather than establishing more mass vaccination clinics, the existing sites — like Hawaii Pacific Health’s vaccination center at Pier 2 and the Queen’s vaccination center at Blaisdell — can expand and allow for more people. And at some point, the vaccines would be available at pharmacies, he said.

With news of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being finalized, that will also help accelerate vaccinations and provide more options, Green said. Despite it not being as strong as some two-shot rivals, J&J’s would offer protection against COVID-19 with just one shot.

“Overall a lot of people may want to opt for the Johnson & Johnson shot because it’s just one shot,” Green said. “They will probably be in the lower-risk category, healthy, 38-year-old person, doesn’t have any major concerns, but does want to be vaccinated for all the benefits it will provide them.”

Green said most people will be vaccinated by the fall of 2021, and the earliest the state could see herd immunity would be July 4, but it’s more likely that it would be closer to Labor Day.

“We’re accelerating this, the federal government is making this the signature effort because it opens up all of America safely, and we’re gonna be tracking kind of at the highest levels,” Green said.

“We’re already vaccinated at a higher rate than any of the western states. So we’re doing pretty well after a slow start out of the gate.”

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